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Parshas Bechukosai 5774
Candle Lighting Time: 7:58 pm
May 23, 2014
Volume 10 Issue 28
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Dvar Torah

600,000 = 1  


By Rabbi Yosef Prupas



The Book of Bamidbar begins with G-d's commandment to Moshe to take a census of the Jewish people. The Nesivos Shalom questions the need for such a counting. The Jewish nation is eternal and therefore current numbers should be irrelevant. Additionally, the language of the command is puzziling. Would it not have been more accurate for G-d to command to "count" the Jewish people, rather than to "take a reckoning of the heads of the people"?


            To properly understand the NesivosShalom's answer we need the following introduction: Rabbi Chaim Volozhin, in his sefer NefeshHachaim, describes human individuality vis-�-vis the oneness of G-d. Technically the two concepts are mutually exclusive. How can there be a reality of human individuality in the face of the far reaching concept of the oneness of G-d (that there is nothing but G-d in the universe)?


R' Chaim then introduces the concept of "tzinoros," literally "pipes." (We offer a very superficial explanation of this thought, as a proper elucidation is beyond the scope of this dvarTorah.) The idea is that all that is in this world is a part of G-d.  The further we are from G-d the more we see the light of G-d as though it is being channeled through a prism, scattered in multiple directions. These are the tzinoros mentioned above which serve as the source for our existence. Depending on our distance from Hashem, the tzinoros split from a single pipe into multiple pipes. Because the further we are, the more obscure G-d is and therefore instead of receiving our existence directly from G-d, it comes from one of the branches that spread out from the main pipe.  Our proximity to G-d is what increases or decreases the spreading out of His goodness. We can now understand why our objective in this world is to get as close as possible to G-d, because our spiritual proximity dictates how concentrated the joy that results from our dveikus (attachment to G-d) will be.


Let us return to the NesivosShalom and his answer. Our Sages tell us that just as there are 600,000 letters in the Torah, so too are the number of souls of the Jewish people. At the same time we are also taught by the Arizal that the ineffable Name of G-d, using the "AlephBeis" and its gematria (numerical values), has 600,000 combinations. This reflects the intimate connection between Torah, the Jewish people, and G-d.  All this, and its awesome implications, would have remained unknown, were it not for the census commanded by G-d.  The counting of 600,000 Jewish souls amplified and drove home that it is no coincidence that this number finds its place in the name of G-d. This demonstrated both our closeness to G-d and the possibility of complete unity within the Jewish people, as is the oneness of G-d. And finally to be one with G-d Himself, our ultimate goal as described above.


The NesivosShalom further points out that it is not by chance that the parsha of Bamidbar always falls out immediately prior to the holiday of Shavuos. At the foot of Mount Sinai the Jewish people reached their ultimate objective.  They were as "one man with one heart," and in turn "one with G-d and His Torah." This is a state of closeness not experienced since Adam prior to his sin. This status unfortunately began to deteriorate with the sin of the Golden Calf.


Therefore as we ready ourselves to re-experience Sinai and all that accompanies it, we should also think about the lesson of this week's parsha. To properly ready ourselves we must think about how we can bring about once again the state of "one man, one heart." May we truly comprehend how the Jewish people are parts of a whole and how we need one another, and thus re-experience the ultimate joy of "YisraelV'OraissaV'KudshaBrichHuchadhu, the Jewish Nation, Torah, and G-d are one."



Dvar Halacha

 Halachos of Sefiras Haomer      Part 3



By Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi



One should preferably stand while reciting the brachah and counting (Shulchan Aruch 489:1, Mishneh Berurah 489:6, Aruch Hashulchan 489:4).  Therefore, one should be careful not to be lean on anything while counting (Koveitz Halachos 6:1).  If one did not stand, he has nevertheless fulfilled his mitzvah (Mishneh Berurah 489:6, Aruch Hashulchan 489:4).  Someone who finds it difficult to stand [e.g. an older person] may l'chatchila count while sitting down (Koveitz Halachos 6:1).


One should not interrupt in between the reciting of the brachah and the counting. This includes even a silent interruption of more than toch k'day dee'bor (a few seconds) or saying something that is not "sefira-related" (Mishneh Berurah 489:29).


One may count in any language, as long as he understands what he is saying.  If one counted using a language that he does not understand, he has not fulfilled his obligation, even if he counted in Hebrew (Mishneh Berurah 489:5).  Harav Shmuel Kamenetsky, shlit"a, understands that when counting in Hebrew he is not yotzei only in a situation that he had no idea what he was saying.  However, if he was aware that he was counting even though he did not understand the exact translation of the words, he has fulfilled his obligation (Koveitz Halachos 6:5).  Additionally, one may not fulfill his obligation of counting with either thinking or writing (Koveitz Halachos 6:3-4).


As mentioned, when the Torah refers to the mitzvah of counting sefira, there is a mention of both days and weeks.  Therefore, the mitzvah requires counting both the days and the weeks of the Omer (Gemara Menachos 66a, Shulchan Aruch 489:1 & Mishneh Berurah 489:7).  The first 7 days, one only mentions the day.  Starting from the 8th day we mention both the day and the week.


If after from the 7th day, one accidently only mentioned the day and not the week [e.g. on the 40th day one counted "today is the 40th day of the Omer" and did not say "today is the 40th day, which is 5 weeks and 5 days of the Omer"] there is a machlokes whether he has fulfilled his obligation.  Therefore, one should recount that night without a brachah [and continue counting with a brachah the next night].  If after the 7th day, one accidently just counted the weeks [e.g. he said "today is 5th week and 5 days of the Omer], he has not fulfilled his obligation, and should recount that night with a brachah, for it is considered as if he never counted (Mishneh Berurah 489:7).


If one counted using roshei tay'vos (an acronym) [e.g. instead of saying "today is the 39th day etc.", he said "today is lamed tes yom etc." there is a machlokes whether he has fulfilled his obligation or not.  Therefore, he should recount that night without a brachah, and continue counting with a brachah the following night (Be'ur Halachah 489:1 s.v. moneh v'holaich).




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